Workplace Ageism


Discriminating against anyone in the workplace simply because of their assumed or actual age is against the law. Every stage of employment including recruitment, terms and conditions of the workplace, and dismissal are all protected by the law for employees. Assumptions and stereotypes about seniors and young people can affect the decisions taken in a workplace in a great way.

The elderly and younger employees sometimes experience discrimination in their place of work due to their age range. This act is what is known as ageism. Employers are basically not allowed to use the age of a person as a criteria to hire, promote, fire, or decide the level of compensation a person can get. However, determining whether an employer used age as a factor to determine his/her actions can be quite difficult to denote as he/she can say they had the genuine belief that someone else could do the job in a better way. Most states have fact finding procedures that help employees determine whether they have been victims of ageism and to help them assert their rights.

Some of the ways in which age discrimination can be portrayed in employment include;

  • Making advert for someone to be part of a “dynamic, young team”.
  • Not employing older workers, assuming/ jumping into the conclusion that they will soon retire
  • Not employing youthful workers, assuming/jumping into the conclusion that they will move on to another job soon.
  • Not rendering interviews simply because the person is too old or too young to “fit in” with other employees.
  • Forcing someone to retire, or making choices around redundancy because of someone’s age.
  • Not providing older or youthful employees with training opportunities because it’s not “worth it”.


Ageism or age discrimination against mature age workers is quite rampant. Senior workers commonly complain about them experiencing discrimination when applying for jobs simply because of their age. There are also complaints of being overlooked for promotion and training. Also some seniors are being forced by employers to take redundancy packages or go into retirement. The truth of the matter is that ageism and compulsory retirement are not just against the law, they are also bad for business and very costly for the community and the employers also.


No, not all older workers are protected by the law. There are some exceptions, and these exceptions are listed below;

  • Employees in “high policy making decision” or other executives can be asked to retire at the age of sixty five as long as they will be provided with an annual retirement pension benefit worth forty four thousand dollars or more.
  • Special exceptions are in place for fire and police personnel, certain federal employees and tenured university faculty that have jobs related to law enforcement, and air traffic control. Should you find yourself in any of these exceptions, you may want to consult your attorney or your personnel office for more details.
  • There is also an exception when age is a vital requirement for the job. This is legally known as BFOQ, “bona fide occupational qualification”. For instance, if a teen clothing store is in need of models, or a company wants an actor to play the role of a ten year old, the ability to look youthful is an essential part of the job or a BFOQ.
Combating Ageism

5 Ways You Can Combat Ageism

Ageism, a termed coined in 1969 and patterned on sexism and racism, is discrimination or prejudice based on a person’s age. This prejudice is problematic because it can affect a person’s quality of life, confidence, job prospects and financial situation.

Ageism also includes the way in which older people are portrayed in the media. How the media chooses to portray older people has an impact on the public’s attitudes towards them, and can actually encourage ageism.

How to recognise ageism

If you experience any of the following, you may have experienced ageism:

  • Being refused membership to a club or trade association because of age.
  • Losing your job only because of your age.
  • Being refused a new credit card, interest-free credit, car insurance or travel insurance because of your age.
  • Being refused a referral from your doctor to a consultant because of age.

There are provisions for some these in the law. For the moment, Medicare is only available to older Americans, and the fair trade prevent unfair dismissal in some cases.

5 ways to combat ageism

Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable, so take it because of your age. Here are 5 things you can do:

  1. Be active

This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym, or even run every morning. Taking a daily walk, and make sure you get out of the house as often as possible. There are gentle exercises you can do that won’t cause problems.

It’s not just physical exercise. Stay mentally active, follow the news, read, write, draw—live in the present, and look to the future.

  1. Speak up

Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around just because you’re older. Participate when you’re given the opportunity instead of sitting on the sidelines.

  1. Be positive

If you’ve made it past 50, you’re doing well. How you approach live, and how you view your age plays a huge role in how other people will perceive you. Be positive, and revel in your experience.

  1. Be as independent as possible

This ties in to the previous point. If you assume your age prevents you from certain activities: you won’t do them. Do your own banking, go to the shops on your own—why not eat out in a restaurant every once in a while?

  1. Stay up to date with technology

Learning how to use email, social media and texting effectively is a great way to stimulate your brain as well as keep in touch with friends and family. This will also buck the stereotype that older people can’t learn how to use new technology.

Ageism and what’s next

The Republican’s health plan could severely hinder their ability to pay for day-to-day necessities. And business know younger people are cheaper, and so easier to pay, this puts a lot of older Americans in a position of financial dependence on a national government that doesn’t want to help them.

Ageism in American is systemic, and causing older Americans a lot of problems. Fighting ageism, and talking about it, is an important role.